Category Archives: ticks

How Weather Plays a Role in Tick Outbreaks

ticks Katie BradyBy Linda Cole

Just the mention of ticks causes a tingling on the back of your neck. An afternoon hike in the woods can end with a thorough search through your dog’s coat and your hair to make sure none of those bloodsuckers hitched a ride. Some years are worse than others, and weather plays a big role in how bad a tick outbreak might be and when tick season begins.

Ticks are found everywhere in the United States, and which species you encounter depends on where you live. There are four stages in the life cycle of ticks: egg, larvae (smaller than a period), nymph (size of a pinhead), and adult. It takes two years for them to develop into adults, and except for the egg stage, each stage requires a blood meal before it can molt into the next one. Females can lay around 3,000 eggs.

Ticks do not die off during the winter months. To survive the cold and snow, most ticks find shelter in leaf litter and are dormant until spring. However, adult deer ticks (black-legged ticks) remain active year round. You or your pet could pick up a hitchhiker anytime the air temperature is close to freezing or above and the ground isn’t frozen or snow covered. In freezing weather, deer ticks hunker down under the snow in leaf litter, on firewood or a tree trunk, and come out during warm spells. If you find a tick inside during the winter, it probably hitched a ride on firewood.

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Garden Plants That Repel Ticks

By Linda Cole

Garden plants are a safe and natural way to control fleas and mosquitoes, but they can also be used to help repel ticks and keep tick carrying animals, like deer, out of your yard. I’d like to thank Frankie Furter, a very handsome black and tan dog, for inspiring this post. When I wrote my article on Garden Plants that Repel Fleas, Frankie asked if there were any plants that could help repel ticks. This article is especially for you, Frankie! I hope it gives you some ideas to help keep those nasty ticks out of your yard and your fur.

There hasn’t been a lot of research done on ticks and garden plants, which is odd considering how much harm ticks can cause not only pets, but people too. Wild animals, especially deer, can carry ticks into your yard when they visit a garden for plants they are attracted to. Ticks can also be carried in the wind from a nearby grassy or wooded area, and they love moist and humid places. Finding just one tick, even on your pet, can give you that creepy feeling that something is crawling up your leg, into your hair.


There are many varieties of lavender. It’s a perennial with a very nice smell that most people are familiar with. But as beautiful as this flower is, ticks, moths, mice, the pesky black fly, mosquitoes and fleas can all do without it.

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How Weather Affects Our Pets

By Ruthie Bently

I’ve lived in the Midwest my whole life, and I’m used to seasons changing. Growing up in Illinois, we had four definite seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Since I’ve lived in Minnesota, several years it’s seemed as if we’ve only had two: winter and summer. On May 24 we broke a record that had stood since 1875. The high for the day had been 87 degrees; the new record is 95 degrees. While this is great for people who love warm weather, it is troubling to me. Normally our tick season is between May and August, but ticks appeared here in March due to the warm temperatures. We’re seeing a higher incidence of Lyme disease and the deer tick is no longer the only carrier. Due to the warmer weather there have been reports of the Lone Star tick (native to Texas) in Northern Iowa. The flea populations also get a head start during warmer weather, and though we’ve not been outside late at night, I saw mosquitoes early this year too.

We live in a rural community and don’t see air pollution too often, but during warmer weather sometimes there will be a haze in the sky when the air quality in the Twin Cities is bad and the wind is blowing from the north. Though Skye loves to play outside, I have to make sure she doesn’t play too much during the heat of the day. We try to go out during the early morning or late afternoon. Bad air quality affects our pets in much the same way it does us – they can become asthmatic and develop chronic respiratory problems.

Warm weather enables protozoa and bacteria to thrive, and each of these present problems to our pets. The earlier the warm weather, the more chance your pet could come in contact with one of these. A protozoan is a single celled parasite that lives in soil, water and the feces of an infected animal. There are several kinds that can affect a pet’s blood stream, circulatory system or digestive system, and if left untreated they can be fatal. A pet can become infected with Coccidiosis (Coccidia protozoan) after eating any infected rodent or other infected creature. It causes dehydration and severe cases can lead to death. Giardia can be found in stagnant or contaminated water, feces and soil, although most animals contract it through drinking water. It causes digestive problems in dogs, and they may have gas or diarrhea or show no signs at all.

A bacterium is a single-celled organism that when beneficial assists in decomposing organic material, breaks down food, and enables our pets to synthesize vitamins. Bacteria can also cause diseases, such as Lyme disease, leptospirosis and erlichiosis. My vet mentioned seeing a higher incidence of these due to the increased warmer weather of the past several years.

Lyme disease has been linked to several ticks and is no longer spread only by the deer tick. It’s caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is passed to a pet through a tick bite. Canine Ehrlichiosis is caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is a tick borne fever, but cannot be passed dog to dog, or dog to human. Leptospirosis is passed through the urine of both domestic and wild animals, and can be found in stagnant water. While it can affect dogs and humans, cats rarely show signs. As we move into areas that were once wild, our pets come into contact with carriers of these diseases more often.

One naturally occurring toxic danger to our pets is attributed to a specific family of blue-green algae named cyanobacteria. When it blooms it’s toxic to pets, livestock and humans. Cyanobacteria live in many aquatic environments year round. In bodies of water that are nutrient rich and shallow, during periods when sunny, sustained warm days occur, algae blooms. The toxin produced is one of the most powerful natural poisons. Most toxic algae blooms happen in late summer or early fall, but if conditions are favorable they can happen any time. The water may or may not have an odor and may not change color. Toxic algae blooms most often occur in fresh water, but can occur anywhere. A toxic algae bloom can affect a pet in as little as fifteen minutes after ingestion. If your pet comes in contact with a bloom, thoroughly wash your pet’s coat to prevent them from further harm while cleaning themselves. If you think your pet is ill from the bloom, contact your vet immediately.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Should Your Dog Get the Lyme Disease Vaccine?

By Ruthie Bently

I have lived in southern Minnesota for almost twelve years now. We don’t usually see ticks of any kind before May, when the temperature warms enough up for them to become active; this year was the exception to the rule. After a ramble with Skye I found the first tick, not on Skye but on my own arm. It was only the second week of March.

There are eight ticks in the United States that are responsible for ten diseases people catch; Lyme disease is one that our dogs can catch too. The Deer Tick or Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis) is not the only tick that carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It is also carried by a tick known as the Western Black-Legged Tick (I. pacificus) on the West Coast of the United States. It was originally thought that only the Northern Deer Tick (Ixodes dammini) was a carrier of Lyme disease. The Lone Star Tick (Ambylomma americanum), Ixodes Angustus, and Ixodes spinipalpis have been shown in experiments to be vectors of Lyme disease. This means that due to the development of the disease, there could be more than three ticks we have to worry about in the future. Depending on your location in the United States, from 1% to more than 90% of the ticks can be infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease. The nymph stage of the tick life cycle is the most common for Lyme disease transmission.

Chemical and medical preparations for tick prevention have been around for many years: collars, powders, chewables and topical treatments to protect for a month at a time. There is currently a vaccine available for canine Lyme disease, but there are pros and cons for it. As a responsible pet owner, I always look at something from all sides before I make a decision, because I want the best for the creatures in my care. While the vaccine is reputed to keep your dog from getting Lyme disease, there are dogs that have been vaccinated that have still contracted Lyme disease. Proponents of the vaccine state that it will keep a dog from becoming a carrier and transmitting it to their owner. When I asked my vet about this, he stated you can’t get Lyme disease from your dog; it comes from a tick and cannot be passed from dog to human.

One manufacturer guarantees their vaccine and states that they will pay for 50% of any treatment a dog needs if they do contract Lyme disease. While this sounds good, I have to wonder why they’re only offering to pay for 50% of the treatment. This makes me question vaccinating my dog against the disease in the first place. Other things to consider are that the Lyme vaccine only provides immunity for a short time span, and needs to be administered yearly. It can cause an untreatable, fatal form of Lyme disease. None of the veterinary schools in the United States recommend it. Prolonged use of the vaccine can cause kidney problems in dogs.

Many dogs do not show symptoms of Lyme disease until they have had it for between four and six months, and some dogs never show symptoms. The Canine SNAP 3DX (or C6 SNAP) is a test for antibodies in a dog’s body specific to Lyme disease and should not be affected if you dog has been vaccinated for Lyme disease as the antibodies are only present after infection. Your vet can perform the test and it’s reputed to be very accurate in Lyme detection. If your dog tests positive, the Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody test is suggested as a follow-up. It can be used as a baseline not only for diagnosis, but for indicating progress in the therapy of the disease.

If contracted by dogs, Lyme disease can be treated either allopathically or holistically. However, because of the seriousness of this disease to your pet’s health, this is not one you can attempt to treat by yourself at home, with an over the counter fix. You need to seek veterinary help.

In my opinion, vaccinating for Lyme disease is a bad idea, and I live in one of the states where Lyme disease is high for dogs. It may lull you into a false sense of security; there are other tick borne diseases that our dogs can contract. The other diseases aren’t going away any time soon and if history is any indicator they may just get worse. Tick prevention should be a consideration in your line of defense. After all, Lyme disease started in Lyme, Connecticut and now is nationwide. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you seek the counsel of your veterinarian before you decide whether to vaccinate for Lyme disease, or not.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Protect Your Dog From Ticks

By Ruthie Bently

The different seasons come with different challenges for our pets. Here in Minnesota during spring and summer we have to deal with ticks. We’re told they are heaviest in the months of May, June and July, but we have seen them later and earlier in the year depending on the weather. It is funny that I can watch a gory monster movie, but I get absolutely creeped out by ticks.

Ticks are a member of the arachnid family and, like spiders, have eight legs when they are adults. Ticks are an external parasite that lives on the blood of their host. They are usually found on birds and mammals, though there are reports of them appearing on amphibians and reptiles. There are many varieties of ticks, but the three that should concern you if you live in the United States are the deer tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick.

While ticks can neither fly nor hop, they can drop on their host from a tree or just crawl up a leg or tail. They are abundant near water sources where animals might come to drink. The pets most at risk are the ones that are ill, senior citizens or weak, though any pet can be assaulted by a tick. Ticks can be found in most forests or areas where there are woodlands. They tend to frequent trails and paths that have been made by either humans or animals. They’re usually found more in taller meadow grass that will have shrubs and trees rather than clipped grass. It has even been hypothesized that ticks can respond to scents animals leave behind, and that is why they are found around trails and paths. Ticks are also able to sense the heat and carbon dioxide emissions from a potential host.

Deer ticks are especially dangerous, as they can be carriers of Lyme disease. This debilitating disease can strike down humans and their pets alike. The western variety of deer tick can transmit Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to their host. A deer tick is about the size of the head of a straight pin.

The American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, is found mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. They have also been found in parts of Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. They prefer dogs as their host and can be found on a dog as an adult tick. The dog tick is about an eighth of an inch long as an adult. These ticks winter in the soil and can be active between mid-April to early September, depending on your particular climate. The dog tick is primarily known for passing on Rocky Mountain spotted fever to its host, though it can also pass on the vector of tularemia, which can cause canine tick paralysis.

The brown dog tick is an oddity in that it can live its entire life indoors. This means you can have an infestation in your house, since this tick does not have to develop outside. They are found throughout the world, primarily in warmer climates. They are about the size of the American dog tick. They can be found on pets, inside houses, kennels, and sometimes on wildlife.

Grooming your dog frequently can help you find a tick and prevent an infestation in your house. A tick can cause itchiness around the site of the bite, infection and sometimes even paralysis and death. Often, a tick can be removed fairly easily, by using a tweezers and grasping the head of the tick and pulling gently. Don’t try to remove the tick with your bare hands; if the tick you are removing is infected, you could transfer it to yourself. You don’t want to leave the mouth parts in the wound, as they can cause a secondary infection.

If you are not experienced at proper tick removal, consult with your veterinarian first to learn how to remove them properly and safely. Your vet can also offer various tick treatments and preventative choices that are appropriate for your dog.

One method some vets recommend is to take a swab with rubbing alcohol on it and dab it on the tick to try and get it to let go. Make sure after removing a tick from your dog to bathe the area well with an antiseptic wash. Keep an eye on the area in case there are further complications, and contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes at the site of the bite.

It isn’t hard to be aware and check your dog each time you come in the house. By being diligent you can safeguard your pets, your family and yourself. Your dog will love the extra attention even if they don’t know why they’re getting it.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.